For the Love of a Chicken

Her name is Lenore and she is far more than “just a chicken.” She is my heart and an incredible light in my life. I have 25 hens, but there is only one Lenore.

She is a Speckled Sussex and whenever I look at her, she has her head cocked sideways so she can look up and see me. She is always thinking the same thing. I can see it in her eyes, and it goes something like, “Ya got any blueberries? Worms? Blackberries?”

Before I fenced-in my chickens, she used to peck on the glass storm door. The door would open just a crack and I would slip her a berry, doing it quickly and quietly so that the other chickens wouldn’t notice. Then 30 minutes later, there would come more pecking at the front door and another sweet berry would slip through.

Every afternoon when I sit down, she hops in my lap. When I put my arms around her and start to rock, she takes a nap in my arms. I stroke her gently while she sleeps, and her feathers are so silky soft it warms my heart.

These are moments that are soul-satisfying and fill my chest with love for a chicken.

But it’s more than that, far more, for when they told me a couple years ago I had terminal cancer, I knew I was in real trouble. By earthly standards, I am an old woman; my children are middle-aged and the grandchildren are grown. My work is done. So it was a time in life when it might be acceptable to pass on.

But when I thought of Lenore, all bets were off. I was not going to die and leave that chicken.

It was an incredible experience during the days and months that followed, for as an old woman, I might have acquiesced. But at the thought of Lenore and all her coop buddies strength of such a magnitude that I can not describe would come to me. My back would straighten, my head would rise and my spirit would soar.

“I am not going to leave that chicken.”

So thanks to Lenore, a million prayers from family, friends, strangers and the incredible wonders of medicine, I am here today with a life expectancy that should leave Lenore well-taken-care-of for the rest of her life. For once you’ve loved a chicken, you have to hang in there for the long haul.

Reprinted with permission from the author; originally printed in My Pet Chicken at